Community disconnected highlighted by Co-op
19 November 2018
A contrasting picture of community life in Britain has emerged in a new report issued today (19 November) by the Co-op, which shows that a third of people are disconnected from the place where they live - while a quarter feel closer now than at any time in the past 10 years.
One in three (33%) have no pride in their area and a similar number (31%) are not prepared to do anything to improve the wellbeing of their community, but almost twice as many (23%) say they are closer to the place where they live now than the 12% who say they feel less connected than a decade ago.
Despite the disconnected third, many are still keen to roll up their sleeves and get involved. Two in five (41%) are willing to donate food or goods to a local cause, a third (30%) would join a campaign to save a neighbourhood resource, while a quarter (23%) are prepared to help care for isolated and vulnerable people.
For those wanting to make a difference to their neighbourhoods, the local campaigns attracting most support are fighting a library closure (27%), saving a health facility (18%) and supporting education (17%).
This insightful analysis of community life comes as the Co-op’s Local Community Fund is about to share £19m with 4,000 local causes across the UK.
Rebecca Birkbeck, Director of Community Engagement at the Co-op, said: “It is clear there is a growing divide between those who feel close to their community and those who are completely disconnected.
“However, with almost a third feeling totally disengaged our communities are only operating at 70 per cent capacity.
“We have shown through our previous work in tackling isolation and loneliness that those individuals who are disconnected are more likely to draw disproportionately on local services and resources such as health and social care, over the longer term.
“That is why we want to do what we can in areas where we have food stores and funeral homes to bring people together to improve the wellbeing of communities.
“Although our Local Community Fund is paying out £19m in the next few days, we understand that there is much more to supporting communities than just handing out money.
“Earlier this year we launched our ambition for the next five years which simply sets out what we are striving to achieve - Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities – which will make our local areas better, happier, and healthier places to live.
“This research provides a fantastic base from which the Co-op can continue to develop its community programmes, helping people to cooperate across the UK.”
The “Better Together” report also highlights how open spaces and places to meet are key to a vibrant community. When asked which communal areas were central to their neighbourhood, 49% said parks were most important, followed by libraries (34%), high streets (29%), playing fields (23%) and village or church halls (21%).
However, over a quarter (26%) of respondents said there was less communal space than two years ago, and almost a third (31%) believe there are fewer shared places than five years ago.
Although more than two thirds (70%) do not currently participate in community organised activities, around half (49%) would seize the opportunity if there was something new on offer.
A quarter (25%) would like to attend adult education & learning classes, while 22% would join a community group, such as flower arranging, and 18% would like to try online learning.